25 January 2019 (released)
23 January 2019
For me, Steve Hackett has long been a favourite and an unbelievably imaginative writer and player. From his days with Genesis through his earliest solo material – 1975’s ‘Voyage of the Acolyte’ – he has created some of the most consistent and recognisable music in the progressive scene.
He has always had an instantly recognisable guitar ‘voice’ and this new album clearly shows his expertise in a number of different settings.
He is supported by a vast range of musicians, the album features international artists, including Durga and Loreley of Pink Floyd vocal fame with drummers Nick D'Virgilio and Simon Phillips from USA, Sheema on sitar from India, Icelandic drummer/percussionist Gulli Briem, tar player Malik Mansurov and Swedish bass player Jonas Reingold... This album also features Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo, Rob Townsend on sax, bass clarinet and duduk, Amanda Lehmann on vocals, John Hackett on flute, drummer Gary O’Toole, Roger King and Ben Fenner on keyboards, Dick Driver on double bass, violinist and viola player Christine Townsend
The album almost seems to serve as a combination of a travel through his many styles and themes, bringing to mind a lot of his earlier material, as on the sweeping and sharp-edged ‘Beasts In Our Time’, through Genesis styled ‘Under The Eye Of The Sun’ and his most melodic pieces as on ‘Hungry Years’.
However, this is all new and the quality is exceptional – both the writing and the playing.
Opening with ‘Fallen Walls And Pedestals he plays alongside an arabesque theme while ‘Underground Railroad’ has a Blues feel with passages verging on metal. ‘Those Golden Wings’ is a delicious string and harp opening transmuting into a gently picked guitar and then a dark and intense movement.
Almost the shortest number on the album ‘Conflict’ is fast, sharp and intense – in my opinion one of the best moments on the whole set. Of course, ‘Conflict’ leads into ‘Peace’, thematically very close to ‘Beasts In Our Time’.
The album is, I think, one of the best releases he has made recently, suggesting that he is still at the top of his powers and able to take his place at the top of the Prog pantheon.